Tag Archives: winter

There’s Still Time for Furbearers

March: It’s the month where everyone can’t stop talking about spring. For anyone out there hunting coyote and other furbearers, though, March means this is your last chance to call in a decent, winter pelt. Here are a few tips from Jared McGrath of Goodhue Marina & Firearms on making the most of what’s left of furbearer season.

Bust out the Jet Sled

Man in winter camo hauling decoy in jet sled in snow [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

Your jet sled isn’t just for ice fishing. [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

With the warming temperatures, wet, heavy snow is a pain to slog through. Even on snowshoes, hiking in your gear can be a nightmare. Best way to get the gear out to your blind? “Use your jet sled,” McGrath says. That’s right – the same one you’ve been using all winter long for ice fishing. “Chances are, you’ve got it stored right in the back of your pick-up,” says McGrath. With the lake ice rapidly melting, now’s the time for your jet-sled to become your new hunting buddy. Don’t already have one? These heavy duty, deep sleds are perfect for hauling gear by hand, ATV or snow machine. Best part? Jet sleds skid along the surface of snow and ice, even when carrying a lot of gear. McGrath recommends buying a jet-sled in camo, perfect for ice fishing and hunting.

Pack It Down

Plan on coyote hunting this week, but there’s still snow on the ground? Take the time beforehand to scout and pack down a trail to your site. McGrath recommends using your snowshoes for this. You’ll be thanking yourself later when you realize how quickly you arrived at your blind.

Back to the Drawing Board

Man in white camo coyote hunting in NH [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

Image Credit: Jared McGrath

If at this point in the season, you’ve been calling coyotes for three months, and still haven’t bagged one, it’s time for some new strategies. Like us, coyotes don’t like this wet, heavy snow either. They may be answering your calls, but will need extra convincing to step out from the treeline. Use this as an opportunity to try out new decoys or bait. (When using bait on private land, McGrath reminds hunters to get written permission from the owner.)

It could also be that the coyotes in your area are feeling some hard-hunted anxiety. Re-situate your blind downwind in some new territory and start calling. You may just catch some youngsters off guard.

Coyote hunting rifle with scope in winter field [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

Image Credit: Jared McGrath

Switching up your tactics will further hone your hunting style and could make all the difference in the field. And if you don’t land that male coyote you’ve been sweet-talking for hours? There’s always spring turkey hunting.

Looking for hunting rules and regulations? Check out our free, state Fish & Wildlife apps. And don’t forget to share your hunting pics with us on Facebook, Instagram and through our free app, Trophy Case®!

3 Recipes for the Wild Game in Your Freezer

In the Northeast, it’s been nothing but freezing temperatures and snow, ice, and more snow. Naught to do but hole myself up in the kitchen and finally get to all the wild game I’ve got stocked in the freezer. Since there are so many recipes for cooking wild game, here are three favorites that I’ve recently cooked up.

Indian Butter Pheasant

Courtesy of Food for Hunters

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

My Indian Butter Pheasant came with a bit of birdshot. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

I love Indian food. So, when I saw this curry recipe, I knew I had to make it. Unlike other curry recipes, this one has ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Garam masala, a mixture of spices that can found in the spice aisle, adds a really nice warming element to the dish. I also liked that the curry is thickened with minced cashews instead of cornstarch. This recipe makes about four servings.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 pound skinless pheasant breasts (and legs, if you want)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

Curry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 shallow, finely chopped
  • ¼ of an onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (leftover from marinade)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup finely ground cashews
  • 4 servings of jasmine or basmati rice

Directions

  1. In a food processor or using a mortar & pestle, blend the ginger and garlic together to make a paste. Scoop out the paste and put into a small bowl. Add yogurt, peanut oil, salt, and garam masala to the ginger and garlic paste. Mix well. Reserve 2 teaspoons of this marinade mixture in a small Tupperware container and put in refrigerator. (You’ll be using this little bit for the curry sauce.) Put pheasant in a large ziplock bag and pour in the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  2. Grill or broil pheasant pieces until browned on the outside. Don’t cook all the way through! The pheasant will finish cooking in the curry sauce. Cut breasts into bite-size pieces and shred meat of the leg bones. Set meat aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallot and onion until translucent. Then stir in butter, lemon juice, the reserved garlic-ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomato puree to skillet and stir for 2 minutes. Next, stir in 1 cup of cream and ¼ of plain yogurt. Add cayenne pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in ground cashews. You may not have to use all of the ¼ cup, so just use a bit at a time, stir and decide if the sauce needs more thickening. If you’re sauce has gotten too thick, add a bit more cream or water.
  6. Add pheasant chunks to the curry sauce and heat thoroughly. I cooked mine in the sauce for about 8 minutes more. Add salt & pepper to taste to the curry sauce. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve curry over rice.

Chipotle Pheasant Quesadillas

Courtesy of The Gift Fox 

Hen pheasant on a fence post [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

I cooked more pheasant than I needed for the curry recipe above, so I had one cooked pheasant breast leftover. Pulling these quesadillas together is so easy, perfect for a weeknight meal. You should be able to find a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Latin/Spanish foods section of the grocery store. This recipe makes 1 large quesadilla or 2 small quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pheasant breast, cooked
  • 2 – 3 chilis from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/3 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 large flour tortillas (or 4 small soft taco shells)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream and salsa, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Shred pheasant and add to heated skillet. Add chilis to skillet.
  3. With a wooden spoon, stir together chilis and pheasant so pheasant is covered in chipotle flavoring. Cook pheasant until warmed through, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to heat through on low heat, so you don’t dry out the meat.
  4. Place tortilla (or soft taco shells) on large baking sheet. Whether you are making just one large quesadilla or two smaller ones, layer the ingredients. On the bottom layer, spread out a ½ cup or so of the shredded cheese. Over that, add the black beans, followed by the chipotle pheasant. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the pheasant, and then top with the other tortilla.
  5. Put quesadillas in oven and bake for 10 minutes or so, just until the cheese melts. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Or just stand over the stove and devour.

 

Country-Fried Wild Venison Steak Sandwich

Courtesy of Harvesting Nature

Two halves of a venison sandwich [Image: harvestingnature.com/2015/02/11/country-fried-wild-venison-steak-sandwich]

Image: harvestingnature.com

Is carmelizing the onions completely necessary? Yes. This is the kind of recipe that the next day, you find yourself making again under the premise that “you just have to use of up the rest of that horseradish sauce.” If you’re concerned about the lack of veggies, top your venison with a healthy bunch of baby kale greens.

Ingredients

Carmelized Onions

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into long slivers
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Horseradish Cream Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Country-Fried Venison Steaks

  • 1 lb venison steaks
  • 2 sandwich buns or 4 pieces of Texas toast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cups flour
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • Oil, for frying
  • 8 slices of white cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. To prepare the carmelized onions, heat a wide thick-bottomed pot or pan to medium heat. Add olive oil, heat for 1 minute, and then add onions. Cook onions for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add salt and cook additional 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Once onions are carmelized, turn off heat and set aside.
  2. While onions are carmelizing, mix sour cream, horseradish, and chives together in a small bowl. Season the horseradish cream sauce with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. To make the steaks, begin heating oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  4. One by one, place steaks in a ziplock bag and with a meat mallet, pound down to approximately ¼” thickness. (After this, you may need to cut the steaks in half for ease of battering and frying.)
  5. Season steaks with salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning.
  6. On a shallow dish, mix beaten egg and milk.
  7. On another shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
  8. Dip each steak into the flour, then submerge into the egg wash, and finally dredge back into the flour.
  9. Place the battered steak into the heated oil. Flip steak once to ensure both sides are properly golden brown. Remove the steak from the oil and place on a towel.
  10. Evenly disperse the cheese amongst the steaks, and top steaks with carmelized onions.
  11. Cut buns in half (if applicable) and cover the inside and outside with butter. Toast each side of the bun/bread. Coat the inside of the buns with horseradish sauce.
  12. Place the venison and carmelized onions within the buns and enjoy!

The Things We Lose

Dark trees on a foggy day in the woods [Image Credit: Jack Kredell]

Image Credit: Jack Kredell

I’ve lost all manner of things in the woods including, but not limited to, the following: hats (so many hats), knives, rope, extra socks, a thermos, lighters, tobacco, rolling paper, my glasses, a glove (alas, to lose one is to lose both), prescription pills, smart phones, animals I might have shot, a salt shaker, bullets, gun powder, and my wallet. I’m not sure if my knack for losing things is a consequence of the way I hunt, which can be described as overzealous at times, or if I’m simply prone to losing things. Here are a few of the more unfortunate highlights:

Grandfather’s Gerber

image: uhrforum.de

Image: uhrforum.de

After my grandfather passed, his wife sent me a box of hunting gear and included was a little Gerber folder from the early 1980s. Though unremarkable and cheap looking, the knife was used for over a decade by my grandfather to dress elk and mule deer in Idaho’s West Mountains. Put in the hands of an amateur, its story would end unceremoniously on a frigid mountaintop in Pennsylvania. While deer hunting one winter, my feet became so cold that I had build a fire to get circulation back. After making the wood shavings I stuck the knife in a bed of frozen moss thinking I would eventually need more. But I forgot about the knife and walked away. I went back a few days later but the knife was either gone or I couldn’t find the original location. I picture it still out there, rusting defiantly in its grave of moss.

A Doe

The wind was howling so I decided to still-hunt a creek bottom that normally was too loud to walk during the fall muzzleloader season. I promptly walked up on a doe standing 20-yards away drinking from a creek. As I raised my gun she looked up, and I put the sight, which was set at 75 yards (mistake number 1), just behind her left front shoulder and fired. Through the smoke I saw the deer walk about 5 yards before lying down. I put the gun against a tree, reached into my backpack for a bullet (mistake number 2: keep your bullets in your pocket), and began to reload. When I finished, I looked up and the deer was gone. I spent the next 8 hours and the following day searching for a blood trail but found nothing. If I did hit the doe, then there is no excuse for losing her. There is nothing more distressing and painful to the hunter than failing to recover a wounded animal.

Android Smart Phone

I lost my first smart phone during a fall turkey hunt within a week of buying it. Rather than tuck it away in my backpack, I placed it in a bed of leaves at my feet in order to check the time without moving my arms around too much. After four or five hours of calling, I decided to call it quits and head home for lunch. As I stood up, I heard something behind me and turned to see a hen take off flying into the valley. I threw my hands in the air and sulked off, leaving my new Android under the tree for a more deserving hunter. The lesson: glass your surroundings before you stand up.

Thermos

Losing my thermos was a real shame. There was nothing I enjoyed more than pouring myself a cap-full of steaming coffee and watching as the morning sun splashed into valley. It is at that moment when I’m most aware of the beauty and possibility surrounding me, and more often than not, it is the best part of the hunt. The day I lost it I was hunting deer with a flintlock when it began to pour freezing rain. Since I could not prevent the primer from becoming toothpaste, I began the hazardous journey home. On my way down I slipped on the ice and knocked the thermos out of my jacket pocket. I only realized it was gone when I got to the bottom, and in those conditions I wasn’t going back up.

The woods giveth and the woods taketh away.

4 Recipes Worthy of Your Ice Fishing Catch

It may have taken you all day to land that fish, and you’re tired of the same old baked-fish-with-cracker-crust routine. Honor your day’s ice fishing catch with one of these four delicious but simple recipes that are sure to wow fishing buds and family alike.

Walleye Dip

Courtesy of Shel Zolkewich

A plate of walleye fish dip

Image: www.shelzolkewich.com

Inspired by a dish served at the Shining Falls Lodge in Manitoba, we agree with Shel Zolkewich that this appetizer is seriously something special. If making for a group, be sure to get your fill because it’s sure to disappear lightening-fast!

Ingredients

  • 2 walleye filets
  • ½ teaspoons dried dill (or 2 teaspoons fresh dill)
  • 3 – 4 whole peppercorns
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a small frying pan, poach filets in 1 cup of water seasoned with dill and peppercorns for about 4 minutes. When done poaching, fish will be white. Remove fish from water and let dry on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  3. Combine softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauces, parsley and chives. Mix well. Mix in fish. Pour mixture into glass pie plate.
  4. Bake dip mixture for 10 – 15 minutes. If you prefer the top of the dip to be crispy, broil for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Remove dip from oven, and squeeze lemon over the top. Serve with hard crackers or torn bread.

Lake Erie Perch Chowder

Courtesy of Hank Shaw at Hunter * Angler * Gardener * Cook

A bowl of perch chowder with kielbasa

Image: Holly A. Heyser

We confess: We love all of Hank’s recipes. This chowder recipe that he came up with is especially delicious because it’s got that bite of kielbasa in it. This recipe serves 8 – 10.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 quart of fish or clam stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds skinless yellow perch fillets, cut into chunks
  • 6 – 8 ounces Polish kielbasa, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill or parsley
  • 1 cup sour cream, served tableside

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. When it stops frothing, add onion and cook gently until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes and coat with butter. Cook 1 – 2 minutes to let the butter absorb. Sprinkle potatoes with salt.
  3. Add stock, water, and marjoram to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Once potatoes are tender, add perch and kielbasa. Simmer another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the fresh dill or parsley.
  5. Ladle chowder into bowls and let everyone add sour cream to taste at the table. Serve with plenty of beer and crusty bread.

Baked Stuffed Pike

Courtesy of Linda Gabris at Western Sportsman

A headless stuffed pike cooked in tin foil

Image: www.foodnetworkrecipes101.com

If you’re not catching pike, this recipe also works for trout, walleye, or salmon. If you’re cooking any fish smaller than 6lbs, adjust the amount of stuffing accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs whole dressed Pike (if you prefer, remove head and tail)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Nutty Rice Stuffing

  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package instructions
  • ½ cup fine breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together cooked rice, breadcrumbs, celery, green onions, almonds, lemon, zest, and basil.
  2. If cooking at home, preheat oven to 350°F. If cooking outside, stoke campfire so it burns hot and has plenty of hot embers.
  3. Lightly stuff your dressed fish with the rice stuffing. Place remaining stuffing on bottom of baking pan or, if outdoors, on a large sheet of buttered aluminum foil. Lay fish on top of stuffing. Dot fish with remaining butter.
  4. If cooking at home, cover baking pan with a lid and bake fish in the oven for 40 minutes. If cooking over a campfire, securely wrap fish in foil and place over embers, turning often until fish is flaky (about 40 minutes).
  5. When done baking, slip off skin from fish and discard. Garnish fish with lemons and dill.

Grilled Trout with Clementine, Scallion & Ginger

Courtesy of Food for Hunters

A grilled trout rests on clementine slices on a white plate

Image: foodforhunters.blogspot.com

What we love about this Asian-inspired recipe is that you can make it right out on the ice. Just remember to bring along the grill! We recommend preparing the scallion & ginger sauce at home, so you can be eating gourmet in the great outdoors in no time. This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole pan-sized trout, scaled and gutted
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 green onions, 1 chopped and 1 sliced in half lengthwise
  • Oil, for brushing
  • 1 clementine orange (or tangerine), peeled and segmented

Ginger Scallion Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup of low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
  • 1 Thai (bird’s eye) chili, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Prepare grill to high heat. In a small saucepan, combine peanut oil, minced green onions and green ginger. Warm up mixture for a few minutes, but make sure not to brown it. Pour green onion mixture jar into a small glass jar. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and Thai chili to the mixture in the glass jar. Shake well and set sauce aside for later use.
  2. Rinse trout under cold water and pat dry. Brush the skin and cavity with oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Stuff the fish with clementine wedges, sliced green onion, and a drizzle of that ginger scallion sauce you prepared. Note: For the clementine wedges, make sure to peel the skin off each slice so the wedges release more juices during grilling.
  3. Clean grill grates. Brush oil over grates, so the trout won’t stick to them. Place stuffed trout over the grates and cook for 3 – 5 minutes on each side until cooked through and slightly charred. Note: Depending on the size of your fish and how well your grill conducts heat, cooking time may vary.
  4. Transfer cooked fish to plates. Drizzle with more ginger scallion sauce and garnish with chopped green onion.

Looking for more great fish recipes? We’ve amassed quite a delicious collection on our Trophy Case® Fish Recipes Pinterest board!

Tag Soup and Lessons Learned

I hunt public land in the ridge and valley province of Central Pennsylvania. Mistakes made on public land tend to be amplified given the amount of hunting pressure, annual variance in food sources, and difficulty of terrain. Success here is the result of being either very astute or very lucky (or both).

Pennsylvania public forest land during hunting season

Hunting Territory [Image: Jack Kredell]

This year I got to dine on a big hearty bowl of tag soup. Coming up empty-handed after putting in 60 – 70 hours of hunting time in six days is enough to make you doubt your ability – and your sanity. Here are a few lessons learned from this year’s hunt.

Feed Yourself

If you hunt from dark to dark, as I often do, pack enough food and water to keep you energized and alert throughout the day. The best way to achieve this is by eating in small quantities continuously. When you don’t eat and drink enough, you lose focus and start thinking about that nice, warm meal at home (seriously, you waited an entire year for this moment and now you want to go home and eat spaghetti?). As a result of your mental fatigue, your steps become careless and loud because you’re not committed. Next thing you know you’re watching a buck’s rear-end disappear into the thick stuff.

They’re There… Somewhere

There are deer everywhere. Even if this isn’t true, you should act like there are deer everywhere. How many improbably placed deer have you carelessly bumped while hunting and scouting? Like a million. The hardest thing is to be ready all the time.

Measuring big buck print in the mud

Never did catch up with this guy. [Image: Jack Kredell]

Stay Put

The grass is always greener. What usually happens is that I’ll settle into a spot only to see another spot over the way that looks even better. So, I put my backpack on (noise), stand up (more noise and just about the worst thing to do in the woods), and move (more noise) to the spot that looks even better. And, of course, from this new spot I see a spot I like even more. Just stay where you are and have confidence in your decisions. If the deer are moving in your area, you’ll know it.

Prep Your Scope

Your scope is going to fog up in bad weather. Modern scopes are filled with nitrogen, which makes the inside fog-proof but not the outside. At a critical moment in the hunt you don’t want to be looking through a foggy scope. I recommend installing Butler Creek flip-open scope covers. If you’re sitting down, hold the rifle away from your body so that your body heat doesn’t fog up the scope. Your body’s warmth, not the rain, is the enemy of your scope.

A series of tree scrapes in Pennsylvania; two are buck rubs, one is from a porcupine feasting on the bark

Two buck scrapes & leftovers from a porcupine feast [Image: Jack Kredell]

Adapt

From a tactical perspective, a hunter should find that sweet spot between patience and adaptation. That spot you scouted earlier in the season might be perfect… for a cold, sunny day. But now the wind is blowing and rain is coming down in sheets. What then? It’s time to adapt. Patience can be overrated. Some of the best fishermen I know are the most impatient people in the world. They don’t waste their time on something they know won’t work well. Anybody can get lucky in unfavorable conditions, but more often than not you need to take luck into your own hands.

I got skunked this year. I saw plenty of deer, perhaps more than ever, but nothing that I could legally shoot. The good thing is that I put in over 60 hours the first week of rifle season, so I have no regret – or excuses. The only bad hunting is not getting out to hunt.

Happy holidays and happy hunting!

Wintertime Pigs

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

When it comes to colder weather and hunting, most people immediately turn almost all of their attention to deer. And while deer season certainly is a big deal, it’s important to remember that in many parts of the country, it’s still legal to harvest wild pigs during the deer season. This is nice not only because you can still have a chance to fill the freezer if you don’t harvest a deer, but also because it can help keep the invasive pig issue somewhat under control. It’s important, however, to remember that hunting pigs during winter differs slightly than hunting them during the warmer months. Take the following tips into consideration when hunting pigs during the colder months, and you might just walk away with some bacon.

Man holding gun next to a wild pig

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Staying cool

It’s no surprise to anyone that pigs like to wallow in the mud. But one must remember that pigs wallow primarily to stay cool. When it’s already cold outside, the need to lay down in a mud hole and stay cool diminishes greatly. Though areas where pigs wallow are always a great place to check out, I personally wouldn’t spend nearly as much time in these areas as I would in the summer. The pigs simply don’t need it as badly.

Finding Food

As always, pig are… well… pigs. They need to eat, and they eat a lot. Unfortunately, they’re extremely difficult to pattern. Winter doesn’t make this task any easier as they’ll roam far and wide to not only find food, but to stay warm. If you have access to food plots or feeders, these are probably going to be your best options. Look for pigs to stay out more during daylight hours, too. Depending on the temperature, their need to stay warm will actually outweigh the need to stay cool.

Hunting rifle on top of spotted wild pig

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Increase range

Imagine a swamp in the deep south and how thick the foliage and cover can be during the summer. That cover, however, is a little different during the winter. Yes, there will always be places that are thick as can be, but generally a lot of foliage dies off during the winter months. Use this to your advantage and try taking something different than the slug gun. I personally like to break out the 30-06 with a 3×9 scope for pigs during the winter. On low power, I have easy target acquisition and I can take advantage of the newfound distance I can see in the woods.

Technology

Wintertime is an awesome chance to use new gadgets and technology when hunting pigs. Thermal imaging such as FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) and Nightvision can really step up your pig hunting game to the next level. As stated before, winter means slightly less foliage, so it’s easier to see a long distance with the Nightvision without all the brush in the way.

Two hunters as seen through night vision goggles

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Similarly, it’s easier to spot hot spots with thermal imaging because inanimate objects (stumps, logs, etc) don’t heat up as much during the day. They stay cooler, and help eliminate the chances of mistaking a stump for a boar. Just remember to check your local and state laws regarding such equipment.

Wild hog as seen through night vision scope

Image Credit: Alex Vail

So, the next time you get ready to take a trip to the woods, remember these tips while you’re bundling up in the morning. Just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean a summertime favorite activity is done for. Afterall, bacon and eggs is hard to beat on a cool, crisp morning.

Great Gifts for Hunters & Anglers

Hunting for great gifts for the hunters and anglers on your list? We’re here to help! After scouring the Pocket Ranger® Gear Store inventory, here are some thoughtful (and useful!) gifts that are sure to make any outdoorsy person merry this season.

Winter Gear

Winter gear gifts such as red hat, black mittens, work boots

Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store

Winter hunting? Ice fishing? Hunters and anglers need all the help they can get staying warm out there this winter. Hats, gloves, masks, socks, snowpants, jackets: we’ve got it all in our Gear Store. Our favorites include this classic red Coal Harbor Beanie and these supremely packable Glacier Glove Angler Mitts. We also love the Wolverine Marauder Boots that are both waterproof and insulated with 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation. These boots have the kind of all-day warmth and comfort you need when out in the woods or on the ice.

Fly-Fishing

Fly-fishing gear such as dry flies, balaclava with fish pattern, and gear carrying case

Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store

Not all rivers and lakes are frozen this time of year, but anyone fishing right now will want to have a balaclava like the Airhole Drytech one we have in the Gear Store. We have plenty of flies in our Gear Store, but giving fly assortments may be the best gift of all. Since there’s nothing like reeling in a largemouth lunker, we recommend the Umpqua Largemouth Bass Selection. Instead of your typical gift bag, why not tuck all those fly-fishing goodies in the Fishpond Stowaway Reel Case. Just put a red bow on top and you’re all set!

Flannels

No outdoorsman or woman can have enough flannels. From Woolrich to Pendleton, Horny Toad to Hurley, we’ve got a few more to add to their collection this season.

Six flannels in holiday colors and checks

Top Row: Men’s Loser Machine; Woolrich; Pendleton
Bottom Row: Women’s Hurley, Horny Toad, Discrete [Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store]

Camping Gear

We have so much camping gear in the Gear Store, and it was hard to choose just a few things. This Primus C7H Food Vacuum Bottle is a favorite of ours; its wide mouth makes it easy to fill, eat from, and clean. After hours spent in the stand or in the bobhouse, there’s nothing like opening up this thermos and having a hot lunch. If you’re looking to give a big ticket item, look no further than Brunton Eterna Spotting Scope. This mid-size, waterproof scope has a magnification power range of 20-45x, with a multi-step eye relief system and a durable ergonomic body. Since it’s glass will never fog, you can be sure that this will be their #1 scouting tool.

Camping gear, including black thermos, scope, and wooden-handled hunting knife

Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store

We hunters and anglers go through so many knives. They get jammed, beat up, lost, or borrowed and never to be returned. This is exactly why SOG’s Woodline Large Fixed Blade Knife will be a welcome sight under the Christmas tree. It’s the best of both worlds: beautiful and functional, fitted with a rust-resistant, stainless steel blade and a wooden handle with thumb and forefinger grooves for optimal dexterity.

Trophy Case® and Pocket Ranger® Fish & Wildlife Apps

Strapped for time? The most thoughtful gift of all may just be a download away! Download our free Pocket Ranger® Fish & Wildlife apps onto any mobile device, so the lucky recipient will have complete access to great features, like state regulations, license & permit information, species profiles, and our Advanced GPS Mapping technology. And don’t forget to join Trophy Case®, our free social networking site created just for hunters and anglers. Trophy Case® users can share photos and tips, and earn points towards great prizes!

Happy Holidays!